The 45th NILE Stock Show and Rodeo is the region’s largest livestock event, showcasing multiple cattle breed show and sales, horse sales and futurities, and rodeo with the Ranch Rodeo Finals and ProRodeo.
This year the NILE will take place at MetraPark in Billings on Wednesday, Oct. 17 through Saturday, Oct. 20. While this year offers many of the same events and activities that people have enjoyed there are also many new and exciting elements as well to celebrate the 45-year history.
It was the fall of 1968 when the founders of the Northern International Livestock Exposition held the first Stock Show. That year it was at the Public Auction Yards in Billings. However, it was not an event that was just pushed together in the few months prior.
In fact, the concept of a region or national livestock show come out of a committee leading agriculture businessmen and area ranchers over a year earlier in 1967. Now in 2012, the NILE will celebrate 45 years of upholding the mission of what the original founder believed was important to promote our region’s livestock industry.
Throughout the years of the NILE, there have been as many good times as there have been turbulent times. Fortunately, the commitment and desire by NILE directors, members, staff, and sponsors have tipped the scales of existence in a positive direction. Which is why this year the NILE is excited about this year’s event and some of the new things that are available for people to enjoy.
“It going to be a great show,” says Justin Mills, NILE general manager. “We expect around 35,000 visitors to attend the NILE over the four days. With some of the things we’ve added will really create an event that has something for people of all ages.”
The foundational element of the NILE each year is the Stock Show. This year the NILE Stock Show will host over 20 livestock shows and sales in the short four-day window.
“People are busy these days and it is hard to commit to being away from home very long. We want to make it so that no matter what day you come to the NILE, there is a lot going on,” says Mills. Eleven cattle breed shows will be encompassed in this year’s schedule: Shorthorn, Hereford, Red Angus, Galloway, Angus, Texas Longhorn, Gelbvieh, Balancer, Miniature Hereford, Lowline Angus, and an All Other Breeds Show. In addition, there will be a Jr. Fed Show held on Wednesday, Oct 17, that will include a Swine Show, Steer Show, and a Lamb Show.
Meanwhile, the Merit Heifer Show, which will be held on Friday at 9 a.m., is arguably the most attended show all week. It is the culminating event for 25 young aspiring livestock producers that were awarded a free heifer one year earlier from donor ranches.
A Jackpot Show as well as a Showmanship Contest is held in conjunction with the show and then one individual is selected as the Top Herdsman based upon their monthly reports, interview, and showmanship skills.
One show that was not in existence in the very first NILE but has become extremely popular is the NILE Club Calf Show and Sale. This show features both steers and heifer calves that are shown and sold to 4-H or FFA members for their project through the next year.
This year along with the Junior Fed Sale of Champions, that will be at 5 p.m. in the Pine Coulee Bull Sale Arena in the Expo Center, there are four other cattle sales. The Club Calf Sale will be at 10:00 a.m. Thursday with all sale animals eligible for futurities that award over $4,000 each year.
Next will be two sales on Friday. The NILE Prestigious Red Angus Sale will be at 1 p.m. while the NILE Gelbvieh Sale will be at 5 p.m.
Then the week will conclude with the NILE Angus Female Sale at noon. The following sales will be webcasted by CattleInMotion.com that will also offer live bidding: Junior Fed, Club Calf, Gelbvieh, & Angus.
Finally, the week of cattle events will conclude with an exciting and new addition of the NILE Supreme Row Show presented by Little Horn State Bank. The Supreme Row Show will feature all of the Grand Champion Bulls and Females of each show in one show for each respective gender. The show will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Ford EcoBoost Arena. However, the final selection of who will be crowned the 2012 Supreme Bull and Female will not take place until Saturday night during the NILE ProRodeo. Each winner will receive a $1,000 and a Bronze Boot Trophy.
Horse events have always been a major component of the NILE. This year is no different as the NILE Gold Buckle Horse Sales and Futurities will be held over three days on Thursday through Saturday. In the last few years, the NILE Gold Buckle Horse Sales have seen incredible growth. The struggles that have beset the horse industry through over the last several years have eluded the NILE horse sales.
“We work hard to make sure our sales offer quality consignments,” says Ward Fenton, NILE Horse Sale Chairman. “Our process is not perfect, but we take it very serious. In the horse business, your reputation does more than anything else.”
It is a reputation that has spread profusely over the past couple of years and has established the NILE Gold Buckle Horse Sale as the premier sale in the region. Futurities have also been a major component that has spurred the growth of the sales.
“The market for young horses just has not been there,” says Fenton. “However, with the futurities tied to our sales, we have been able to provide an extremely strong market for good young horses from reputable breeders that you can’t find anywhere in the country.” This year the Weanling Yearling Sale presented by Copper Spring Ranch will be on Friday at 1 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Performance Horse Sale presented by First Interstate Bank will be at 1 p.m. Both sales will take place in the Rimrock Auto Arena.
The Gold Buckle Horse Sale Futurities presented by Pfizer will take place over the three days and include the Yearling Futurity, Snaffle Bit Futurity and 3-Year Old Futurity.
, and a new futurity called the Midnight Corona Barrel Racing Futurity. Over $13,000 will be paid out through all the futurities with over $3,500 just in the barrel racing futurity. Finally, the NILE Raffle Filly has been a long-standing tradition of the NILE. With the proceeds going towards NILE Youth Scholarships, this year’s filly was donated by Gary and Ginger Decock of D&S Cattle of Hysham, MT. She is fancy sorrel filly with Doc Bar on the top side of her pedigree. She has a great disposition and will have had over thirty days riding on her for the lucky winner and/or buyer. She will be on display throughout the week and tickets are $5/each or six for $25.
If you had attended the first NILE Stock Show, you would have not seen a rodeo. However, in just a few years, a NILE Rodeo was added to the list of events. At that time is was just an amateur rodeo held in the Auditorium and Exhibition Hall of what was then called the Midland Empire Fairgrounds, later named MetraPark. However, that building burned down in 1969 and it was not until 1975 that the NILE returned with a rodeo in the newly built Metra Arena, this time it was sanctioned with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Over the years, the NILE ProRodeo has been one of the most outstanding rodeos in the region. This year the NILE continues with its PRCA rodeos however, the addition of the NILE Ranch Rodeo in 2007 added a new style of rodeo that has been extremely popular and entertaining. The NILE Ranch Rodeo Finals will be held on Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 pm. Twelve ranch teams from across the region that have all won their qualifying local ranch rodeos will be participating in this year’s event. A new addition this year is the NILE’s sanctioning under the Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association (WRCA). This allows the winning team from the NILE Ranch Rodeo New a spot in the WRCA World Finals in Amarillo, should that team meet their ranch and membership qualifications.
The NILE ProRodeo has always been one of this region’s most revered PRCA rodeos. Prior to 2008, the NILE was one of the last major rodeos of the season for contestants to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. However, now the NILE sets as one of the first rodeos of the year for PRCA and WPRA contests. This has created a challenge to get the NFR bound contestants to the NILE and the rodeo attendees to the NILE to see the NFR caliber contestants. In 2010, the NILE hired Brookman Rodeo as the primary contractor but stipulated that two additional stock contractors must provide the other two-thirds of the rough stock. “We just felt that if we wanted to get high caliber contests to the NILE, we needed to make sure that they had an opportunity to win on any horse or bull in the pen that night,” says NILE General Manager Justin Mills. Additionally, the NILE began looking at ways that they could provide a high quality event that was second-to-none in terms of fast paced and highly entertaining, yet reverent to the tradition of the sport. “This year I believe we have put several elements together to make this one of the best rodeo’s we’ve ever had.” Wayne Brooks, who has been PRCA Announcer of the Year, will handle things from the announcers stand while JJ Harrison from Wala Wala, WA will provide the entertainment from inside the arena and barrel. “Both Wayne and JJ are excellent,” says Mills, “I don’t think there’s a better combination out there right now. JJ is no doubt the best in the business right now and it is worth the ticket just to listen and watch his antics.”
The NILE ProRodeo will start Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 with the theme being the Cat/Griz Rodeo Shoot-Out. “This was something was started last year,” says Justin Mills, “and everyone really enjoyed it.” Spring boarding off the instate rivalry between the Montana State Bobcats and University of Montana Grizzlies the night will contain a competition using drafted rodeo contestants to gain points for each school. At the end of the night the winning school gets 60% of the money offered by the NILE from ticket sales will the losing school get 40%. Money paid to each school is used for scholarships to their respective rodeo teams.
Are you Tough Enough To Wear Pink? That is the theme for Friday Night’s NILE ProRodeo presented by St. Vincent Healthcare. If you are, come Friday night for the rodeo where $1 of every paid ticket is given to the St. Vincent Healthcare’s Eva Project that works to help with awareness and early detection of breast cancer.
On Saturday, the NILE will be teaming up with the Big Sky Honor Flights for Wrangler Patriot Night. “Honoring our veterans is not something you do because it feels good, we do it because we owe them that and they deserve it,” says Mills. In addition, the Saturday night performance will provide a “side competition” between the bulls and the bull riders with the proceeds offered by business sponsors going towards the Montana Special Olympics.
A new element will be included in this year’s ProRodeo openings that will provide something never seen at a rodeo in the Rimrock Auto Arena, or even a rodeo Montana. A laser light show will dazzle and amaze those in attendance each night of the ProRodeos that will be Thursday, October 18 through Saturday, October 20 starting each night at 7:00 pm. “It’s something a lot of people have never seen and it just simply amazing to experience a laser light show,” says Rob Erickson, NILE Rodeo Committee Chairman. Brookman/Highland Rodeo out of Sidney, MT will be the primary contractor while Burch Rodeo (Rozett,WY), Corey & Lange Rodeo (Moses Lake, WA), and C-5 Rodeo (Lac La Biche, BC, Canada) will be bringing bucking stock. Timed event slack will be Thursday, October 18, at 7:00 am while WPRA Barrel Racing slack will be following the Friday Performance.
Tickets for all rodeo performances can be purchased at the MetraPark box office or any ticket outlet location, online at metrapark.com, or on the phone at 800.366.8538.
A trade show was also something you would have not seen at the first NILE Stock Show. However, do to the nature of many NILE events bringing people together into one spot; it was only natural that a trade would evolve. This year the Western Expo, which runs from Wednesday, October 17 through Saturday, October 20, includes not only a trade show but many other events as well. The NILE trade shows have always featured exhibitors with exquisite western art or jewelry, saddle, tack, and western ware as well as livestock equipment, feed and supplement, and cattle genetic based companies. “This year we are sold out,” says Justin Mills “that hasn’t always been the case, but this year we have had a lot of interest with vendors coming in to the NILE.” Several years ago, the NILE began adding other events in association with the NILE trade shows. Each day free entertainment including western music, poetry, bluegrass music, and Dutch Oven Cooking will be featured. A talented line-up of clinicians will give a variety of demonstrations on Friday and Saturday of The NILE in the Ford Super Duty Arena of the Montana Pavilion. Two sessions will be presented by each clinician daily. Demonstrations start at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. on October 19 and 20. Ed and David Fryer along with Montana Beef Quality Assurance program show tips and tricks for making a day of working cattle just a little easier through their demonstrations on Low Stress Cattle Handling. A father-son team out of White Sulphur Springs, the Fryer’s have a passion for teaching others about cattle handling and show how it can make your ranch life easier too! Stock dogs have been a cowboys right-hand-man for years. Tim Feddes of Manhattan, Montana has been using stock dogs on his family’s Hereford ranch for years. Sharing how stock dogs can make a difference in life on the ranch for working livestock, Tim will show his dogs work a group of sheep live. Horse enthusiasts and trainers alike have been amazed by horse trainers like Chris Cox, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson and Dennis Reis. These same trainers have inspired Jacque Richey to teach others Natural Horsemanship and equine choreography, where they perform demonstrations to music without aids. Jacque currently offers lessons at Standing Rock Ranch in Billings, Montana and will be performing at NILE with some of her students. Finally, the Northern Range Ranch Roping Finals will take place on Saturday, October 20 in the Buckaroo Businesses Arena, however, come a day early and catch a qualifying ranch roping event for those working to make it to the finals the next day.
New this year will a unique area just for kids of all ages called the Young Guns Zone sponsored by Two-W Livestock Equipment and Taco Johns. “We wanted to provide some activities that would not only bring families to the NILE but offer them a fun experience,” says Mills. The big component that will be part of the Young Guns Zone will be three sessions of Mutton Bustin’ held each day. There is an entry fee for kids to participate of $10 and winners from each round during the day will be able to compete in the evening rodeo in Rimrock Auto Arena. “In the past we could only do ten Mutton Busters each night, which meant there were a lot of kids that didn’t get a chance to ride. This year we will be able to offer every kid that wants to, a chance to ride a sheep.” Mutton Bustin’ will taking place each afternoon at: 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00 for kids that are four-six years old and under forty-five pounds.
Other activities that will be in the Young Guns Zone will be the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Shooting Gallery and Dummy Goat Roping with special jackpot competitions at: 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm. Finally, each day will conclude with the Little Wrangler Stick Horse Rodeo at 5:00 pm where kids can compete in their favorite rodeo events with Miss Rodeo Montana Mariah Rys-Sikora as the host.
Since the inception of the NILE, an agricultural education component has become a major part of the NILE Stock Show & Rodeo. Each year nearly 2,000-area fourth graders make their way onto the Metra grounds to learn about agriculture and how it affects their daily lives. “This program is why we do what we do,” says Mills. It is a partnership between the NILE, Yellowstone County Extension, Yellowstone County Conservation District, and several other entities. The program provides teachers with curriculum material that meets state standards and pays for transportation for schools to participate in the program.
To conclude the week of activities the NILE turned to their history and roots of the livestock industry in the region to provide a finale event. New this year will be a full-fledged Cattle Drive and Parade. The NILE Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters Cattle Drive and Parade will take place on Saturday, October 20 at 10:00 am and will travel through downtown Billings. “We are working with Chas Weldon, curator of the Yellowstone Museum to help in recreating a Cattle Drive similar to what would have been seen traveling through the valley over 100 years ago,” says NILE General Manager Justin Mills. This year the Cattle Drive will contain 50 head of steers with a Trail Boss (Turk Stovall), out riders, a chuck wagon and a bunk wagon. The Cattle Drive will lead the parade and then continue past the normal parade route all the way from downtown Billings out to MetraPark. Following the parade will be a community Chuck Wagon Barbeque in the courtyard of MetraPark from 11:45 am – 1:30 pm. Those interested in being a part of the NILE Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters Cattle Drive & Parade can find an entry form and details at the NILE website (www.thenile.org) or by calling the NILE Office at 406.256.2495.
The NILE is a non-profit organization established in 1967 that is dedicated to the promotion of livestock, agriculture education, and respect of the western tradition. For more information on the NILE Stock Show and ProRodeo contact the NILE office at 406-256-2495 or visit www.thenile.org.